Review- The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

Just going to copy and paste my Goodreads review. You guys know how I struggle with distractedness/attention issues… I may be on my way to fixing some of that.

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 Really fascinating read! Well… the chapters on the history of how technology has influenced the human mind/culture were engrossing. The ones on the potential future of reading were terrifying for me as an author who does not want to write multimedia books in tweetable snippets that people can bounce in and out of without deep reading and engaging with the content. I mean, that was all interesting, too. Just in a less pleasant way than the bits about maps and clocks and printing presses. 🙂

I picked this book up because I feel the effects of what the internet/social media/constant connectedness are doing to my brain. I have no attention span. I’m constantly distracted, as though my brain is searching for diversions when I try to work, eager for any notification or excuse to bounce off and do some research instead of becoming engrossed in what I should be doing. I can only read for extended periods if I haven’t touched my phone/computer that day. If I have, I’m primed for distraction and can’t get into a book (especially fiction). And this book mentions all of those symptoms. I was basically just looking for the science behind it, not to be convinced. I was already there, just from my own experience.

Unfortunately, this book doesn’t tell us what to do about it. The author acknowledges that there are many advantages to our new technology (obviously, and the book is definitely not all gloom and doom, as the title suggests), and points out that it’s far too late to close the gates on this progress and its effects, positive and negative. He outlines in detail how computer and internet use affect our brains. He does not address practical ways to curtail the effects while maintaining our connection to the benefits.

So while this was a really interesting read, I can only recommend it to those looking for information on the problems we face, not those looking for practical solutions. I’d love to see a book on that. For now, I’m experimenting. “Social Media Sabbaths” are becoming a regular thing here on Sundays for me, and I’m actually getting some reading done. I’ve already got all notifications turned off on my phone, as absolutely none of them are necessary and all of them derail me from real life and important tasks. And I’m going to start leaving my wifi off/ leaving my phone outside the office until after my work is done for the day. My short experiments have shown that my concentration on reading does improve when the internet is off-limits… we’ll see what happens for my writing.

So there we go. I got on this book via another book that I’ll review on my YouTube channel: “The Productivity Project.” That one was less in-depth, but more helpful in practical ways.

 

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About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

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